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Meet the ‘Swiss Army knife’ of Africa’s digital marketing

It takes guts to even attempt to become Africa’s ‘go-to people’ in the world of digital marketing. Wizardry in digital technology aside, to be considered a serious contender requires unrivalled knowledge of the dynamics involved in B2B and B2C marketing, in digital transformation and its impact on all types of businesses – not to mention oodles of patience. The South African-born, global independent digital marketing services group Incubeta says it is more than up to the task.

Since its inception in Cape Town in 1995, Incubeta has expanded rapidly, acquiring several digital and media companies including Clicks2Customers in 2011, as well as UK-based NetMediaPlanet. It acquired global technology specialist, DQ&A, in 2015 and international digital creative specialist, Joystick, in 2018.

Incubeta has access to over 400 digital marketing experts in 20 destinations across five continents.

Lars Lehne was appointed as Group CEO.
Lars Lehne was appointed as Group CEO.

The company made headlines in January this year after former SYZGY AG CEO Lars Lehne was appointed as Group CEO, taking over from founder Alan Lipschitz, whose company, Interface, made the reverse acquisition of IncuBeta Holdings in 2011. Lipschitz will be moving into the role of Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Incubeta.

Lehne brings with him more than 30 years of industry experience. Prior to Incubeta Lehne spent four years as Global CEO at SYZYGY, a publicly listed WPP Group company. Before that, he spent seven years at Google as Country Director Agency DACH, paving the way for the tech giant quadrupling revenues in Germany. He has also held various senior management positions in agencies including Maxus, GroupM, Carat and MEC.

Incubeta is the union of three market leading specialists in Technology, Media, and Creative – DQ&A, NMPi, and Joystick respectively.

But topping the list of Lehne’s priorities is to harmonise and streamline operations and bring all silos under one Incubeta brand in the next 12 -18 months.

“We will try to harmonise our approach more, working under just one brand and then offering the holistic portfolio. We cannot only resell technology, we have a decent understanding of marketing technology and we are one of the four largest technology resellers for Google. But at the same time we are a very good performance marketing agency and can produce highly creative, effective advertising… we are a bit of a Swiss army knife for digital transformation.”

Africa is positioned “right in the middle” of its global strategy says Lehne and the plan is to leverage its South African-based delivery hub to successfully execute mainly enablement projects.

It also has the advantage of access to resources of off-shore hubs.

Roan Mackintosh, MD of Incubeta Middle East and Africa.
Roan Mackintosh, MD of Incubeta Middle East and Africa.

“The South African team and our clients look forward to benefiting from Lars’ extensive global insight and experience. This comes at a time when rapid digital transformation is significantly impacting local organisations and the benefits of Incubeta’s international market experience and leadership make for a powerful differentiator. The South African team manages a large portfolio of enterprise clients as well as much of the EMEA and Asia Pacific operations and Lars’ appointment sets the scene for a year focussed on client and skills growth,” comments Roan Mackintosh, MD of Incubeta Middle East and Africa.

Mackintosh says South Africa is ahead of markets like the US and UK in some areas, including smartphone adoption and development, but generally behind and hence the need to focus on enablement.

But he stresses that it is not just about the tech. “The tech is one piece of almost a triangle of things that you need to get right. Yes, you can invest in great technology, but it’s not a silver bullet that is going to change your business. You also need to invest in the people that are going to run those tools. The challenge with the technology at the moment, I think, is that they develop it for such a broad client set, they build it to be able to do anything. Often we deal with clients who say ‘well, what should we do?’ and we say we need to understand your business. It’s a case of understanding your business first and then applying the technology to use. So use the technology around your business, not your business around the technology.”

Lehne says the focus will be on e-commerce and digital marketing services going forward, and the intention will be to try to rotate its people across the globe as it taps into its worldwide skills base.

While the company does not have physical offices in Africa as yet, it is engaging with clients in Kenya and Nigeria and other countries in Sub-Sahara, while also supporting local clients who are looking to expand their footprint in Africa, as well as building on its business in the Middle East.

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